Modi Reaches Out to Veterans Advani, Joshi - The New Indian Express

Modi Reaches Out to Veterans Advani, Joshi

Published: 18th May 2014 09:00 PM

Last Updated: 18th May 2014 09:04 PM

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister to-be Narendra Modi today reached out to party elders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi as top leaders held parleys on the formation of the new government that will be sworn in next week.  

The focus of the confabulations among the BJP top brass and the RSS appeared to be on the positions that could be offered to the veterans, like the post of Lok Sabha Speaker to Advani, keeping in view their stature and experience in the party and Parliament. Gujarat Bhavan, Keshav Kunj, the RSS local headquarters, and BJP President Rajnath Singh's residence were hubs of consultations ahead of government formation in which allies are also expected to be included.  

A flurry of activities marked the day when senior leaders including Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu, Kalraj Mishra and Gopinath Munde met the RSS' second-in-command Bhaiyyaji Joshi notwithstanding statements by RSS leaders that they have no role in government formation.       

The discussions gained momentum as the Election Commission handed over the list of newly-elected MPs to President, who is expected to set in motion the process of government formation after the BJP and its allies choose Modi as their Prime Minister so that he call him to head the new government.       

Modi, who stayed put in Gujarat Bhavan here overnight, drove to Advani's residence just a little after noon in the first formal meeting between the two after the party's resounding victory in the elections. The meeting lasted 40 minutes.           

Yesterday, the two had met at a meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board and greeted each other before the media.    

Nothing official was disclosed about today's meeting but sources say that the role Advani could play in the new dispensation was discussed. Advani had reservations over Modi being made the Prime Ministerial face but had to come around at the intervention of RSS.   

In the evening, Modi went to the residence of Joshi, another veteran who was reluctantly made way for Modi in Varanasi. Modi spent well over an hour with him.

There has been speculation that Advani could be offered the post of Lok Sabha Speaker, a Constitutional office that could provide him a role independent of the government.        

Among the names doing the rounds for possible inclusion in Modi's Cabinet include Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Muslim face of BJP, can find place in the Cabinet as a minority representation.     

The RSS appeared to be playing a role behind the scenes in the government formation though, for the record, there have been denials by its functionaries.           

A number of ministerial-hopefuls including Karnataka leaders B S Yeddyurappa, Ananth Kumar, LJP leader Ramvilas Paswan met Modi in Gujarat Bhavan.         

Parallely, party President Rajnath Singh held discussions with top leaders Arun Jaitley, Amit Shah and general secretary Ram Lal, an RSS pointsman in BJP. Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who heads Naga People's Front (NPF) and has won the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state, met Modi as well as Rajnath.         

Another Karnataka leader Jagadish Shettar met Modi and Rajnath Singh and RSS leaders later. He impressed upon them the need for the state to be given proper representation in the new government as the party has won 17 of the 28 seats.        

On its part, the RSS said it may offer "suggestions if required" even as it made it clear that it is not acting as "remote control" and will not interfere in the functioning of the new BJP ministry or the party.           

Paswan, whose party LJP has won six seats in Bihar, was accompanied by his wife Reena and son Chirag, who has also been elected.            

BJP general secretary in-charge for Bihar Dharmendra Pradhan also met Modi to brief him on the political developments in Bihar in wake of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's resignation.        

The meetings came a day after the BJP Parliamentary Board, the highest decision-making body of the party, met here for the first time after the landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections to decide issues related to government formation.      

It was decided yesterday that Modi will be formally elected as the leader of the BJP Parliamentary Party at its meeting here on May 20 ahead of taking oath as the Prime Minister.

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